Prince’s death last Thursday, April 21, was a personal blow to many fans, as the legend’s passing at the age of 57 marked the loss of a hero in and out of music. For George Lewis Jr., the mastermind of Twin Shadow, Prince was more than an artist he looked up to: He was an inspiration for a Dominican-American kid struggling with who he was.
“I’ve always had a hard time defining what I do,” the 33-year-old Lewis tells Fuse, “and I had a hard time growing up defining what race I was. My whole life was like, the black kids asking me if I was white or black, and the white kids being like, ‘You’re definitely not white.’ That was my whole growing up, and I always felt like I belonged to everything, or that I belonged to nothing.”
For Lewis, then, Prince and his ambiguous self-presentation was a godsend.
“His talent for riding every single line without you thinking about it too much—there’s really no one who did it better than that,” he explains. “Prince from the get-go was just this guy riding these lines of black-white, gay-straight, woman-man. Everything he touched was that line. No one has balance enough to handle that like he did.”
When Lewis found out about Prince’s death on Thursday, after his girlfriend called him and broke the news, he says he “paced around the house for three hours, just completely lost and realizing how powerful art and music is.” For Twin Shadow—which released the album Eclipse last year, and which has played with the boundaries of pop, rock, funk and R&B throughout this decade—Prince was a father figure for such musical fearlessness.
“Someone like Prince, when that music comes into your life, it’s so exciting because I felt like I had a kinship with this artist and the art that they create,” says Lewis. “Beyond the fact that he played guitar well and wrote these incredible songs, it really has to do with the fact that you couldn’t define him. He was just…Prince.”